The Ultimate Guide to Pothos Leaves Turning Yellow: Causes and Solutions

Are you struggling with pothos leaves turning yellow and unsure of the cause? Fear not, for this ultimate guide will explore the reasons behind these discolored leaves, as well as tips and techniques to revive your beloved pothos plant and prevent future yellowing.

Key Takeaways

  • Common causes of yellowing pothos leaves include overwatering, underwatering, direct sunlight exposure, nutrient deficiencies and diseases or pests.

  • Proper care techniques such as using well-draining soil, maintaining a consistent watering schedule and providing indirect or filtered sunlight are essential for healthy growth.

  • Reviving a yellowing Pothos plant involves trimming off the yellow leaves, repotting it with root care and adjusting its care routines accordingly.

Common Causes of Yellowing Pothos Leaves

A pothos plant with yellow leaves, a sign of root rot

While yellowing pothos leaves may raise concerns, comprehending the underlying reasons is a key step towards resolving the problem. Common culprits include:

  • Overwatering

  • Underwatering

  • Direct sunlight exposure

  • Nutrient deficiencies

  • Diseases or pests

By identifying the root cause, you can implement the appropriate measures to restore your plant’s vibrant green leaves and ensure healthy plants.

These factors can influence the health of your pothos plant in distinct ways, and it’s vital to tackle them one by one to preserve the plant’s vitality. Let’s explore the typical reasons behind the yellowing of pothos leaves along with their potential solutions.


Indoor gardeners often overwater their plants, a mistake that can negatively impact your pothos plant. Excess water can deprive plant roots of oxygen, leading to root rot and yellowing leaves. The primary cause of yellow leaves in pothos plants is Pythium root rot, which results in black and mushy roots.

Avoid overwatering by ensuring sufficient drainage and preventing the soggy soil. Check the moisture content of the soil using your finger or a moisture meter; if the top 2-3 inches of soil are consistently wet, your pothos plant may be suffering from overwatering. Adjust your watering schedule accordingly, allowing the top layer of soil to dry out between waterings.


Conversely, insufficient watering can also result in yellow leaves. When a pothos plant is not receiving enough water, its leaves may become crispy, drooping, and develop brown spots. Maintaining a balance between too much and too little water is key to keeping the foliage healthy.

To ensure your pothos plant receives adequate water, follow these steps:

  1. Check the soil moisture regularly and water when the top inch of soil is dry.

  2. If you’re unsure whether your pothos needs water, pay attention to the appearance of the vines and leaves; droopy and somewhat limp leaves may indicate a need for hydration.

  3. Slowly pour water over the soil surface until it drains out of the pot’s drainage hole.

Direct Sunlight Exposure

Excessive direct sunlight, or too much direct sunlight, can damage your pothos plant, leading to burnt and yellowing leaves. Since pothos plants flourish in bright, indirect light, providing the right lighting conditions is pivotal to prevent damage.

If your pothos is exposed to direct sunlight and its leaves are starting to discolor, relocate the plant to a shadier location or hang a sheer curtain in the window to reduce light intensity and protect the plant from cold or hot temperatures. By doing so, you’ll prevent leaf burn and encourage healthy plant growth.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Insufficient essential nutrients in the soil may result in the yellowing of pothos leaves. When plants don’t receive the nutrients they need, their leaves may turn yellow and eventually drop off. Over-fertilizing can also result in a detrimental environment that “burns” the leaves, leading to yellowing and depriving the plant of essential nutrients.

To prevent nutrient deficiencies, fertilize your pothos plant every 2-3 months with a balanced houseplant fertilizer. If you suspect your plant is suffering from a nutrient deficiency, apply a small amount of general houseplant feed and observe if the plant’s condition improves.

Diseases and Pests

Diseases and pests can cause severe damage to your pothos plant, leading to yellow leaves and potentially plant death. Pothos plants can fall victim to the following diseases and pests:

  • Root rot

  • Pest infestations

  • Southern blight

  • Manganese toxicity

  • Bacterial leaf spot

  • Bacterial wilt

Maintaining proper care routines is crucial in preventing diseases and pests. Ensure your plant receives adequate light, water, and nutrients, and address any infestations early to protect your pothos plant. Regularly inspect your plant for signs of pests or disease, and take prompt action to remedy any issues you discover.

Recognizing Natural Aging and Leaf Variegation

A pothos plant with healthy leaves and new growth

Keep in mind that not all instances of yellowing leaves should be a cause for alarm. Some yellowing is a natural part of the aging process or due to leaf variegation. Understanding the difference between natural aging, leaf variegation, and other causes of yellowing leaves can help you better care for your pothos plant.

Normal Aging Process

As your pothos plant matures, the yellowing and eventual falling off of older leaves is a normal process. This is a natural part of the plant’s lifecycle, and it’s important to monitor new growth for overall plant health. A few yellow leaves near the base of the plant with a consistent yellow color across the entire leaf surface may indicate natural aging and the emergence of new growth.

If you notice yellowing leaves due to the natural aging process, you can prune them away to maintain your plant’s appearance and health. Removing these leaves will allow your plant to focus its energy on healthy growth and prevent the spread of pests or disease, especially when leaves are turning yellow.

Leaf Variegation

Some pothos varieties, such as the Marble Queen pothos, have natural yellow speckled details on their leaves. This is a result of a genetic mutation that interferes with chlorophyll production and is not a sign of stress or an unhealthy plant.

For those with a variegated pothos plant, bear in mind that the yellow speckling is a natural attribute and not a sign of any issue. Proper care, including providing adequate light, water, and nutrients, will ensure that your variegated pothos remains healthy and vibrant.

Proper Pothos Care Techniques

By adopting appropriate care techniques, you can hinder the yellowing of leaves and sustain a robust pothos plant. These techniques include:

  • Using well-draining soil

  • Maintaining a consistent watering schedule

  • Providing indirect or filtered sunlight

  • Fertilizing your pothos every 2-3 months with a balanced houseplant fertilizer.

Soil and Drainage

Using well-draining soil and pots with drainage holes is a vital part of caring for pothos. This prevents root rot, salt buildup, and other issues that can contribute to yellowing leaves. The optimal soil mix for pothos plants consists of organic matter such as compost or manure, along with components like peat moss, vermiculite, perlite, coco coir, and orchid bark. This combination ensures a balance of drainage and moisture retention.

If you suspect your pothos plant is suffering from poor drainage, you can improve the situation by:

  1. Repotting the plant in fresh soil

  2. Using a container with drainage holes

  3. Ensuring that excess water is removed from the saucer to prevent root rot and other complications.

Watering Schedule

Maintaining a regular watering schedule is essential for preserving the health and greenness of pothos leaves. Overwatering and underwatering can both lead to yellowing leaves, so it’s crucial to strike a balance between the two. Water your pothos plant when the top inch of soil is dry, and avoid letting the soil become waterlogged.

Monitor the moisture levels in your plant’s soil, and adjust your watering schedule as needed. Remember that factors like temperature, humidity, and light levels can affect how quickly your plant’s soil dries out, so be prepared to adapt your watering routine to accommodate these changes.

Light Requirements

Ensuring the right lighting conditions for your pothos plant is necessary to prevent the leaves from burning and turning yellow. Here are some tips:

  • Pothos plants thrive in bright, indirect light, so avoid placing them in direct sunlight.

  • Too much direct sun can cause the leaves to wither and turn yellow.

  • Insufficient light can lead to stunted growth and poor overall health.

Position your pothos plant in an area with indirect or filtered sunlight to promote healthy growth and prevent yellowing leaves. If you notice your plant’s leaves are beginning to yellow due to excessive sunlight, consider relocating the plant to a shadier spot or using a sheer curtain to filter the light.


It’s important to fertilize your pothos plant to supply the essential nutrients it needs for growth and vitality. Fertilize your pothos every 2-3 months with a balanced houseplant fertilizer to prevent nutrient deficiencies. Be cautious not to over-fertilize, as this can lead to a harmful environment for your plant and cause yellowing leaves.

By providing the right balance of nutrients, your pothos plant will be more resistant to stress, diseases, and pests. Adjust your fertilization schedule as needed based on your plant’s growth and overall health, and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper application.

Reviving a Yellowing Pothos Plant

A pothos plant with yellow leaves

Once you’ve determined the reason behind the yellowing of your pothos plant’s leaves, it’s time to intervene and rejuvenate your plant. This may involve trimming yellow leaves, repotting the plant if necessary, and adjusting care routines to prevent further yellowing.

Trimming Yellow Leaves

Removing yellow leaves is a significant part of restoring your pothos plant. Removing these leaves allows your plant to focus its energy on healthy growth and prevents the spread of pests or diseases. Use clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears to snip off yellowing leaves close to the main stem of the plant.

Dispose of the trimmed leaves and any affected plant material to prevent the spread of disease. Keep an eye on your plant’s health, and continue to trim any yellow leaves as needed to promote healthy growth and maintain healthy leaves.

Repotting and Root Care

If your pothos plant is root-bound or suffering from poor soil quality, repotting may be necessary to restore its health. Choose a container that is a few inches larger than the root ball or 2-3 times the size of the existing root ball, and use a well-draining potting mix composed of peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite.

Carefully remove the plant from its current container, and trim away any rotten roots before repotting in the new container with fresh soil. Keep an eye on your plant’s health and growth, and adjust your care routines as needed to ensure it thrives in its new environment.

Adjusting Care Routines

Lastly, tweaking your care routines can aid in preventing the further yellowing of your pothos plant’s leaves. Make sure your plant is receiving the proper amount of water, light, and nutrients to promote healthy growth and prevent stress. If you notice any signs of overwatering, underwatering, or other issues, adjust your care routines accordingly to address these problems.

By providing the right balance of care, your pothos plant will be more resistant to stress, diseases, and pests. Monitor your plant’s health and growth, and be prepared to adapt your care routines as needed to ensure your pothos plant thrives and maintains its vibrant green leaves.


In conclusion, yellowing pothos leaves can be a sign of various issues, ranging from overwatering to nutrient deficiencies. By understanding the common causes and implementing proper care techniques, you can prevent yellowing leaves and maintain a healthy, vibrant pothos plant. Remember to monitor your plant’s health and growth, and be prepared to adapt your care routines as needed to ensure your pothos plant thrives for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I fix yellow leaves on my pothos?

Clean the pot, rinse off the roots, and place the plant with fresh soil in an area of part sun to part shade. Make sure the soil drains and don’t overwater or mist the plant to avoid root rot.

Should I cut yellow leaves off pothos?

If your pothos plant has root rot, you should disinfect a pair of scissors with bleach and snip off the yellowing leaves. Too much sun can also cause the plant’s leaves to yellow, in which case you can remove affected leaves or wait for new growth to cover up the old.

How do you tell if pothos is overwatered or underwatered?

If you notice yellowing of the leaves accompanied by brown crispy spots, then it is likely that your pothos is being overwatered. If there are just yellow leaves with no brown spots, then your pothos is likely being underwatered.

How often do pothos need to be watered?

Water your Pothos every 1-2 weeks, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings. You may need to water more often in brighter light and less often in lower light. Signs of overwatering include yellowing leaves and black stems, while underwatered plants will wilt and their potting mix will dry out.

Why are my pothos leaves turning yellow?

It seems that your pothos leaves are turning yellow due to overwatering, underwatering, direct sunlight exposure, nutrient deficiencies, or diseases/pests. Consider the environment around your plant and adjust accordingly.


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